Justin Blackmon hasn’t played in the NFL since 2013 but Jacksonville Jaguars general manager David Caldwell remains optimistic about the talented, yet troubled receiver making a comeback from his off-the-field transgressions.
The Jacksonville Jaguars believed they were drafting a future Pro Bowl receiver when they made former Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon the No. 5 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
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Nearly three years removed from drafting Blackmon, he has missed more games as a result of suspensions stemming from breaking the league’s policy on substance abuse than he has played for the Jags.
Blackmon is suspended indefinitely after his last off-the-field incident and missed the entire 2014 season after only playing in four games in 2013, but Jaguars general manager David Caldwell is encouraged with the progress he’s making and would welcome him back to the team if the league allows it.
“It’s currently in the league’s hands and it’s in Justin’s hands, to be honest with you,” Caldwell said, via Pro Football Talk. “The reports I’ve gotten second-hand is that he’s doing the right things and engaging in the program and he’s really trying to make positive strides in his life. Our thoughts are with him.
“We’ll welcome him back if he does all the right things and hopefully the league shows some urgency in trying to focus on him and he shows some urgency in trying to do the right things. Right now, those reports are positive.”
Blackmon still needs to apply for reinstatement and if the second-hand reports Caldwell is receiving are true and he can continue making positive strides in his life, then the biggest stride could be getting another chance to play in the NFL.
He left Stillwater after 233 receptions, 3,304 yards and 38 touchdowns in his last two seasons with the Cowboys that saw him named an All-American twice and the Biletnikoff Award winner twice, while also finishing fifth in the 2010 Heisman voting.
As a rookie, Blackmon played in all 16 games, starting 14, and catching 64 passes for 865 yards and five touchdowns. After a slow start he broke out with a seven-catch, 236-yard game with a touchdown against Houston and finished the second half of the season looking like a future star.
Then his repeated violations of the league’s substance abuse policy and penchant for making poor decisions radically shifted the pro prospects for Blackmon who has been limited to four games since his rookie year.
If, and I use that word cautiously here, Blackmon can exercise his personal demons with addiction and make a return to the Jaguars, he would join a group that includes Cecil Shorts, Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson and give Blake Bortles another weapon to work with.
The Jaguars know they can’t trust Blackmon now and can’t expect him to be on the field in 2015, but showing support and lobbying the league for some urgency in the matter, bodes well for the door being open to a return in Jacksonville.
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